Peter H. Hare
March 16, 2010
Since W. V. Quine propounded a thin holism in 1951 in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” there has occurred an historical process in which investigators working more or less independently with widely different vocabularies in virtually every specialized area of philosophy and many other disciplines have thickened Quine's holistic web. Fierce critics of holism have often done as much to thicken holism as avid supporters. But we must not assume that increased thickness is to be identified with more extreme holism. Henry Jackman, for example, achieves greater thickness by moderating semantic holism. Pragmatists attribute a degree and type of holism in a specific context consonant with the thickest description available. Morton White finds Quine's holism unacceptable not because discontinuities cannot be found in experience but because Quine, in failing to appreciate the deep continuities between the normative and the descriptive, refuses to accept a thickening of our experience of the world.